Friday, May 29, 2009

Shine Coconut Moon-- Neesha Meminger

September 11, 2001. New Jersey. Fear, racism, fear, aggression, fear.

Samar is a 17 year old Indian-American girl. She was raised to be American, and knows almost nothing about her culture and family. Her mother separated herself from her strict parents and wanted to avoid the racism and pigeon-holing dark skinned people receive in the United States, so she raised Samar to be American through and through. Samar has only white friends, a white boyfriend, and lives a happy lilly-white life... until a man in a turban shows up on her front steps and changes everything.

Set just after the 9/11 attacks, Shine Coconut Moon tells the story of Samar, a girl who has longed for a big jovial family her whole life. After the attacks, her Uncle Sandeep reaches out to Samar and her mother, begging them to contact their family again and to put the past behind them. After 9/11, Samar's classmates begin to look at her differently and some even react violently to Samar and her uncle. But meanwhile, Samar finds solace in learning about her roots, making Indian friends, and exploring what it's like to have a family.

There's a lot of good stuff in this book. My only gripe is the author was so heavy-handed in the way she wrote about actions and emotions... don't tell me about it literally, describe the scene so I get the feeling without it being so in-my-face. This is Meminger's first novel, and I bet she will improve with later work. All in all, it's a good but not excellent book that describes the horrible fear and violence that occurred for many nonwhite people after the 9/11 attacks. I would recommend this to girls who want to read about other cultures, especially India, or who enjoyed Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier (which I loved).

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